22 November, 2009
Paula and I traveled down with a few friends (Jen, Gilbert, Keil, Nora and Kristal) and we visisted 3 Champagne houses on Saturday in Reims and then another 2 on Sunday afternoon in Epernay before driving back to Luxembourg.
Check out some pix from our trip....
26 October, 2009
04 October, 2009
Our first destination near Brugge, after a quick stop in the town of Roeselare for lunch, we were off to a personal visit to the new Struise brewery in an old school. Upon arrival at the brewery, we were greeted by Urbain and his great hospitality. He treated us to several of his cutting edge beers and a tour of the current setup of the brewery and what is to come.
After leaving struise we were off to Brugge and a cute little B&B we had stayed at before, just a few blocks from a working old windmill. Once we checked in we headed out into the city for some site seeing and then dinner at Erasmus, one of the best restaurants in Belgium. Erasmus is known for their excellent food and equally excellent beer list. After dinner, Paula and Suzanne headed back to the B&B and Keith and I made our way to two different beer bars..the famous Brugs Beertje and then a cool little cellar bar, Poatersgat.
18 September, 2009
13 August, 2009
Check out pictures from our great weekend!
As this coming weekend is a holiday weekend in Luxembourg and this part of Europe, most things will be closed and I will have more time to post pictures and interesting words about our travels!
08 June, 2009
01 June, 2009
17 May, 2009
I had not planned in advance to go to the festival but after finding a pretty cheap flight from Brussels and a tiny and inexpensive hotel in Copenhagen, I was off on my own to the fest. My flight left Brussels at 7 am so I was up and out of the apartment a little after 3 am on the road to Brussels. The drive is very quick when there is hardly any road traffic. A short 1 and 1/2 hour flight and I was in Copenhagen. Another 10 minute train ride from the airport and I was in the center of town.
After checking into the hotel, I was off on a little shopping mission. When Paula and I visited Copenhagen back in August she fell in love with some cool rubber Scandanavian boots called Viking boots but she did not buy them and has regretted it since. We looked online but were not able to find these Viking boots for sale anywhere near us in Luxembourg. So when I decided to go back to Copenhagen for the beerfest, Paula made sure that I would look for these elusive boots. I did and I found them and brought home 2 pairs for her and I got 1 pair for me for good measure!
The festival started at 2pm on Friday but before heading there I had to make a shopping stop of my own at one of the best beer stores in the world, Olbutikken, run by the brother of the brewer at Mikkeller in Denmark. I had a bag full of beer I brought over from Luxembourg to trade with the owner Jeppe so I grabbed one of the free Copenhagen city bikes and peddled myself the mile or so from the hotel to the store. They were set to open up at noon and I figured I would get there a few minutes early but was surpised to find a line of about 20 people deep waiting to get in! I headed to the back of the line to wait out the opening. Once inside it was very tight but I managed to get a nice selection of very hard to get beers and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the fest.
My hotel was only about 200 yards from the main Copenhagen train station so after a quick walk and a 10 minute train ride I was at the festival location. It was about 3pm on a Friday so the fest was not as crowded as it would be later in the day so I had a good run of the place and whatever I wanted to sample at the time. With the price of admission you get a nice little tasting glass, 10 tokens for samples and a handy little festival guide with descriptions of every beer for sample, all 1,000 or more! Now 99.9% of the descriptions were in Danish which I can't read but at least it said what style each beer was and it also pointed out the times for special keg tappings for limited beers so I made a handy little list of my must have beers.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday I was lucky enough to sample about 56 of the worlds best and most extreme / cutting edge beers, many of which will never be sold in bottles or will not make it the part of Europe where we live or to the U.S.
Check out pictures from my weekend fest trip to Copenhagen
Check out the list of beers that I was lucky enough to sample in Copenhagen
10 May, 2009
05 May, 2009
They arrived on a Friday in Luxembourg and we stayed in our flat and had a bit of a traditional dinner that we eat in Luxembourg which consisted of amongst other things...sausage and beer! On Saturday we took in some of the sites in Luxembourg City for the better part of the day and then we headed off to Orval in Belgium for lunch and a visit to the abbey. Later that evening we headed back into Luxembourg City for dinner at Mousel Cantine which is a great Luxembourgish restaurant in the Clausen section of the Grund.
After going back to work for Monday and Tuesday, Paula and I packed up the little hatchback and were off to Utrecht, where Andrew and I used to live along with a bunch of other American's and folks from all over the world on a special project. This trip was all pleasure...no work...or at least not that much work. Just a bunch of emails on my Blackberry. We arrived in Utrecht after about 3 and 1/2 hours on the roam and just in time for lunch.
After parking the park and checking into the hotel, we jumped on a train to Bodegraven, a little town about 20 minutes outside of Utrecht to visit a great Dutch brewery called De Molen which just happens to be in an old windmill (molen). We arrived just in time to have lunch and a few beers. As expected, the food and the beer were fantastic and the scenery was cool as well. There were no other patrons in the restaurant at the time so we got great attention from the brewer dude except for when he went out shopping and outside to smoke. After lunch and a few drinks we headed into their small but stacked beer store where I was a kid in a candy store! They have beers from all over the world including their own beers, tons of hard to find Belgian beers, American beers and a nice selection of beers from Scandanavia. I think I purchased something like 12 or more bottles, several big ones but we came prepared with a bottle bag and a backpack.
After a quick stop at our hotel in Utrecht, Paula and I headed out through town to the main shopping, eating, drinking and general good time area right along the beautiful Oudegracht canal. We were on a mission to find some seats at Cafe Belge which is my favorite bar from the days of hanging out in Utrecht back in 2000. This bar has a great view of the canal and a fantastic Belgian beer selection and is really a locals bars. We arrived and were lucky to find a table right at front with 4 seats for when Andrew and Tracy arrived a bit later. Thanks to newish smoking laws in the Netherlands, the bar was smoke free so we were able to enjoy our beers without the extra taste in the air! Andrew and Tracy arrived maybe an hour later and we had a few more beers before heading off on a little walk down memory lane through the little streets of Utrecht. It was nice to pass by some of the shops, restaurants and bars that we used to frequent in Utrecht.
We were also in the middle of Queen's Night which is a crazy party night before Queen's Day. They were setting up all kinds of stages for dancing and late night partying when we were walking through town looking for a place for dinner. There were also a bunch of boats floating down the canal with partygoers and a few dudes sitting on couches in front of stores, drinking beers. Good party atmosphere. We updated up having dinner on the Oudegracht at Casa Di David which is right on the water. This was one of our favorite restaurants when living in Utrecht a few years back.
More words to come soon....
05 April, 2009
Here is how our day unfolded:
As we had just arrived on time from a 3 hour train ride, we were in need of some refreshments so we headed right down to Morte Subite which was already opened. We entered this huge bar and were greeted by a nearly empty place which was nice, less smokey. We were very pleased to also be greeted by our favorite waiter who was featured on an episode of Three Sheets with Zame Lamprey so we knew it would be a good day. Paula ordered a Mort Subite white lambic and I ordered a MS Gueuze. Both were very nice and refreshing. We later ordered a mixte of cheese and salami...yum. At the same time I ordered another drink, a Mort Subite Faro. Yum as well. While sipping on our drinks and doing some people watching on the street, it was amusing to see a few groups of people come inside the bar to take pictures and just leave..without having a drink. Although we enjoy Mort Subite, we had too many other places to visit so off we were....
..to Delirium Cafe. Delirium is a beer destination as they have reportedly over 2,400 different beers, many from countries or breweries you may have never heard of or would not want to ever try but it is still worth a visit. This bar can get really really busy, noisy and smokey but I really enjoy their selection and checking out all the old beer signs and beer trays throughout the place. When we arrived there were only about 15 or so people in the whole bar so we were able to get a nice table (which is a huge wine barrel standing up) and we quickly dug into the massive been menu and order a 75 cl bottle of Fantome Pissenlit to share. I was very happy to find this beer as it is not usually available and was very fresh tasting for a beer from 2003. A nice afernoon treat. Although there were many more beers to drink, we had to move on....
Our next stop was for a quick lunch at Fritland for some Belgian Frites and some sort of burger hoagie thing. Good food none the less. And then we were on...
...to De la Décasse, a well hidden and more local bar that serves mostly lambic beers from Timmerman's. I had heard good things about this place but have never visited so we gave it a try. It is off a very busy restaurant area but down a non-descript alley that is easy to miss. Upon entering, we realized it was mainly a local spot as there were several families in there enjoying some jugs of lambic and everyone turn their hends when we talked in but we still felt very welcome. There are a good number of old wood tables with a mix of different chairs throughout the place and then a tiny bar in the corner where they serve 3 different lambics from tap and then a few more in bottles. They offer the beers in about 6 different jug sizes from a single serving up to a jug that seems to be about 2 litres or more in size! we order a jug of the Timmerman's Doux lambic from about a 75cl jug which was enough for 2. The beers were served in little tumbler glasses which fit in with the atmosphere of this place. The beer was refreshing and worth a try and the bar was definitely a good visit and we will come back on future trips but we only stayed for this one drink and then we were off again...
...this time to Toone, the bar and marionette theatre right off one of the main shopping streets and not far from Delirium a stretch of touristy restaurants where the waiters stand out from and beg you to come in to eat their cheap food. We always pass up on the offer and head to Toone. Paula was lucky enough to see a marionette show when our friends Heather and Ray came to visit in 2008 but I have yet to see a show. Someday. Toone is down a long alley that opens into a courtyard where there are 5 or so tables but it was a bit chilly so we went inside to one of the 3 or 4 rooms on the ground floor. It was fairly empty so we had no trouble finding a seat and took up the menu to decide what to drink. At about 4:08 pm we got our drinks, a Mort Submite Kriek for Paula and a Vieux Temps for me. Both decent beers. In addition to having some old marionettes hanging on the walls and various posters from some of their shows, we were also in a room that served as the old stage and seating areas for shows but apparently they now have the nightly shows at the top floor of the building which is several flights of stairs up, almost in the attic! Toone also has 2 cats that roam around the place and last time we were here, one came crawled onto Paula's lap and slept there for awhile. This time we saw one of the cats licking itself in the distance but he or she didn't come to talk. We did get a chance to pet the other cat, a black one, on our way out and onto the next destination....
...Delirium Taphouse. I know what you are thinking...back to Delirium again..in the same day? Well this is not exactly the same thing as Delirium Cafe although they are in the same building and owned by the same folks. The Taphouse is on the first floor and the Cafe is in the basement. We were visiting the Taphouse for one reason...they had De Dolle Cosmos Porter on tap. A very special new beers from De Dolle that is not in bottles, only on draft at select locations. We had it at the Zythos beer fest last month and when I found out from a bartender at the Cafe that it was upstairs, we had to come back when the Taphouse was open. Although it was a bit smokey when we got there, we found nice seats at the back of the bar in a new area that was opened up since our last visit. I of course had the Cosmos Porter and Paula had a nice glass of Houblon Chouffe which is one of her favorites. After one drink each we were off for more shopping and then to....
....the Poechenellekelder, a really nice bar right across from the Manneken Pis statue that draws so many crowds of tourists and gawkers. Because of the proximity to one of the most popular destinations in Brussels, the bar gets very busy with folks stopping in to take a look around and have an innocent beer so it is ofen hard to find a seat but since they had the tables out at the terrace in the front, I thought it would be easier to find a seat. When we entered the first floor was completely packed so I quickly headed downstairs where not everyone knows there is seating. I had a couple right on my heels but I was able to find us a cool little table in the basement with a nice view of some beer signs on the walls and a cabinet full of beer books. We each ordered a beer from the draft special list: Paula ordered the Gouden Carolous Hopsinjoor and I ordered an Easter beer, the Slaghmuylder Passbier which was ok but nothing special. Paula's beer is very good and another of her favorites. After that we ordered a treat, a 75 cl bottle to share of the De La Senne Jambe de Bois which is a hoppy tripel beer and one I have been trying to find for several months. It proved to be worth the search for this one! After the Jambe de Bois we moved across to the street to...
....Taverne Manneken Pis which is also busy due to the proximity to the Manneken Pis statue but not as busy and it has a less extensive beer list but still is a charming corner bar. We easily found a table and each had one beer before hitting the road. Paula had a Tripel Karmeliet and I had a new beer, a Hopus, which was a nice hoppy pale ale served in a nice flip top bottle and in a huge glass with a huge head to match!
After these last drinks, we headed to get a waffle for the road, a real waffle, not one with all the creat and chocolate and strawberries on them. just a plain sugar Liege waffle. We packed that away for the train ride home and headed over the Greek area for a chicken pita each for the walk back to the train station for dinner. This is an odd street with a guy standing out in front of each trying to entice you into their restaurants. We went to the least offensive one and got some tastey pitas for the walk! Our train left Brussels at 9:37pm and got us back into Luxembourg at 12:40 am and we were back to the apartment with Molly at about 1am and then off to bed!
02 April, 2009
30 March, 2009
More pictures and words to follow soon....
08 March, 2009
01 March, 2009
- The first full weekend of March, which just happens to be the first weekend of Philly Beer Week, we will try to forget about not being in Philly for this great week+ of events by visiting Picobrouwerij Alvinne in Belgium for a fantastic beer tasting with beers from Alvinne, De Struise and De Molen (from the Netherlands). Glenn the brewer at Alvinne and Urbain from De Struise have put together a fantastic 2 day tasting at Alvinne that leads up to the weekend Zythos beer festival in Belgium. This Pre-ZBF festival will have approximately 30 wonderful and rare beers from these brewers and some fancing sounding food as well. We also plan to visit both days of the Zythos beer festival for a period of time to see some friends and sample some nice Belgian beers. We will spend the weekend in the city of Ghent, which is a less traveled city that Brugge or Brussels it seems but has just as much charm and is a bit Dutchy with the canals and all so that is good as well.
- The last weekend of March we found cheap flights from Luxembourg to Geneva, Switzerland so we are going in search of Swiss watches and Army knives!
- We originally planned a trip in April to Dublin and parts of the Irish countryside including County Mayo where there is a Gaughan's Pub! I had visited Dublin and the Irish countryside with my parents in 2000 and we made our way to Gaughan's Pub in Ballina in County Mayo, only to find out that they were closed on this Sunday...boo hoo. I have since done research on Gaughan's Pub and found out it is owned by an Ed Gaughan, not my dad, and I also found out they no longer sell beer....what??? Oh well, we still want to visit. The problem is that we booked our trip over the Easter weekend and in Ireland....EVERYTHING is closed, including BARS and restaurants throughout the country on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and Monday things are not much better so we have made a smart decision to rebook the trip to May.
- At the end of April our friends Andrew and Tracy from Philly are coming to visit and we plan to show them around Luxembourg and also to travel to Brugge, Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands. This will be a very fun trip.
- We now plan to visit Dublin and other parts of Ireland at the end of May when things will be open!
- At the end of the month we are taking a short flight to London to visit the city a bit more and also to see Bruce Springsteen and the Dave Matthews Band in Hyde Park!
01 February, 2009
Although we were not able to take a tour of the brewery as they are usually closed to the public unless you have a prior arrangement or a large group, we were able to visit their brewery store where they sell all their beers in bottles and they also sell 10 litre jugs of several different beers including jonge (young) lambic, oud (old lambic, kriek ( lambic with cherries) and faro (lambic with sugar). We were in line behind a couple who were purchasing about 3 cases worth of various Girardin beers.
I was on a mission to get a 10 litre jug of lambic and then a few bottles of beer as well. We were going over to a friends house that evening for dinner so a large jug of freshly made beer would be just perfect! Plus I can't drink such a large jug all myself.....
We were helped by a very nice older man who filled a jug up for us with jonge lambic straight from the barrel! We also bought 12 bottles in total of 4 different beers including faro, 2 different kinds of gueuze and some framboise (lambic with raspberries). Each bottle was about €1.50 ( a real steal of a price!) and the jug was €16 for 10 litres which works out to €1.60 a litre which is larger than an average wine bottle. The price was a fantastic deal but besides the price, getting a fantastic lambic beer right at the brewery and straight from the barrel can't be beat!
After our lambic haul, we took about a 20 minute drive to Liederkercke, Belgium to have lunch at De Heeren Van Liederkercke. Paula and I were here once together with my brother and Kelli came to visit and I also went once myself a few months back to lunch. They have wonderful Flemish food and a fantastic selection of Belgium beers, heavy on lambics and gueuze and vintage beers as well. The restaurant was empty when we got there but quickly filled up with locals that all seemed to know the owners. For lunch Paula had coq au beer (instead of coq au vin as this was a beer restaurant) and I had stoofvlees which is a nice beer stew type dish with frites! The highlight of the lunch for me was a 1992 bottle of Alexander Rodenbach which tasted fresh despite its age in the bottle.
Overall is was a nice afternoon in Belgium and we were back in Luxembourg before 5pm.